The altane of Venice

Seeing Venice from above is always spectacular. The eye skims over the city’s rooftops, each different from the other, while the steeples of the city’s many churches also rise right up, soaring skywards.

It’s a vision that also fascinates Venetians. They don’t often get to see their town from this point of view, which you get by climbing the bell tower of San Marco or the one on the island of San Giorgio.

Two other viewpoints for seeing the city from on high have opened recently.

One is from the top of the so-called “Scala del Bovolo” in the Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo, which is a a few steps from Campo San Luca.

The other is from the beautiful terrace of the Fondaco dei Tedeschi, next to the Rialto Bridge. After a long restoration project, this has been transformed into a shopping centre with a variety of luxury boutiques, which Venetians have mixed opinions on it as always.

From here, you can enjoy an incredible view of the Grand Canal.

But what is striking, beyond the asymmetry of the roofs and solitary steeples that shoot up, are the many “altane” or classic raised-up terraces on many Venetian houses.

They are strictly built of wood and thus, need frequent and expensive maintenance due to constant exposure to the elements and the action of the humid, salty air. They rise above the roofs, standing on two or four pillars. In summer, they are a place to sunbathe during the day while after sunset, you can enjoy the cold of the evening there.

Some are small in size and some are bigger. It’s not uncommon to use them during the summer, especially in the evening, as a place to dine with friends.

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